#ThingsOnlyWomenWritersHear …or Do They? ...by a woman writer




Amidst the new social justice scene, new “issues” arise daily—most recently being the plight of women
writers to be taken seriously in the publishing world. Author of CHOCOLAT, Joanne Harris
(@joannechocolat), brought this issue to light with the hashtag (since every global problem can now be
resolved with one of those) #ThingsOnlyWomenWritersHear which has since garnered attention from
thousands of people on Twitter. Her original tweet was about how the writers she knows have given up
mostly due to fear of rejection, to which another Twitter user replied about the need to take up other
jobs to sustain a family while writing. This is where the social-justice-induced-hashtag-driven quagmire
begins; Harris replied to the other user that loving writing is justification enough to do it (such is true),
but also brought up that men aren’t asked to justify or sacrifice their interests for the sake of family.
Through a full-scale twitter rant, Harris said that male writers don’t get criticized for neglecting their
families to pursue writing, whereas female writers do. Several others sympathized and caused the
hashtag #ThingsOnlyWomenWritersHear to trend, with reasons such as the differences between
responses to males and females in the publishing industry, writing styles, etc.
One of the most confusing tweets was about how a female writer was asked if she used a pseudonym to
sell more books since boys and men *obviously* don’t want to read books written by a woman.
However, when you look at some of the most successful young adult series as of late, Suzanne Collins’
Hunger Games series became a craze for males and females without the usage of a pseudonym.
Cassandra Clare’s Infernal Devices trilogy created the same phenomenon, as did Angie Sage’s Septimus
Heap series, Cornelia Funke’s The Thief Lord, Anne Rice’s The Vampire Chronicles, etc. This isn’t the mid-
1800s when women had to publish under pseudonyms to sell books (*cough*Bronte sisters*cough*);
women are free to publish whatever they’d like, and audiences will respond to the quality of the book.
The reason why female written literature may get less fans today is not because of the gender of the
author, but because of the tropes YA writers tend to fall into such as the dystopian fantasy love triangle.
The mistake of believing one could replicate the success of The Hunger Games or Divergent series
paralleling that trope is most likely to blame for the lack of interest in female-written novels.
But what about older literature? If you’ve been through the American school system, chances are you
were forced to read a Jane Austen, Louisa May Alcott, or Bronte book (maybe even something by all
three?). And chances are, the boys in the class probably groaned at the romantic plotline of Pride and
Prejudice (Heck, I think I rolled my eyes at Darcy’s sappy letter to Elizabeth). This could be labelled as
sexism by the ever-fierce hashtag warriors, but how many young girls would have liked reading All Quiet
on the Western Front or One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest? There’s no shame in liking stereotypically
masculine or feminine literature, and there is no shame in liking books outside of stereotypes. This is no
reason to victimize female writers for not always appealing to a male audience, or proclaim that all male
writers are selfish and negligent of their families. Writing is about sharing a message and hoping to
connect with people who find meaning in said message. And as for myself, I think I’ll try to get something on the bookself.